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Important Tips for Hebrides Vacations

Apr 22, 2008
The Hebrides of Scotland are a collection of islands just off the west coast. These islands are categorized into the Inner or the Outer Hebrides with only a small percentage being populated. Vacations to this fascinating part of the United Kingdom are on the increase and this article examines some of the unique problems which can occur if not suitably informed.

The main Island in the Inner Hebrides is the Isle of Skye which is the most populated, most visited island with the largest landmass. Now connected to the Scottish mainland by a bridge (previously the only access was by ferry) the island is the easiest of all the islands to visit.

While many people visit the Inner Hebrides to enjoy the beautiful scenery many others visit the region to indulge in the favorite sports. Cycling is extremely popular but many hill walkers and mountaineers visit to climb in the Cuillins of Skye. One thing that you really need to understand is that, in the Hebrides, the weather can change from sunny to almost winter in just a few minutes. Please take safety precautions and dress and equip yourself correctly.

To get to the Outer Hebrides you need to cross a stretch of sea water known as the Minch, this can be done by ferry or air. Although there are over 200 islands in this group only a few are populated. The Isle of Lewis is the most populated and largest island and it attached to the Isle of Harris (to the south). Further south you will find North and South Uist, Benbecula, Barra and Eriskay with a multitude of smaller islands spread around.

Many people take their vacations in the Outer Hebrides so that they can enjoy the unique scenery which ranges from bland moorland to dramatic rocky coastal areas, mountainous areas, superb shell sand beaches backed by the incredibly fertile land known as machair. The islands are superb for practicing a great number of sports including cycling, walking, hill walking/climbing, surfing, fishing, hunting, golf and many, many more.

Hebrides accommodation is always excellent but you may find that the hotels prove to be an expensive option. Although there are a great many guest houses and places offering bed and breakfast it is extremely common to discover that they are fully booked with no vacancies displayed outside. To avoid the possibility of being without, it is always the best idea to book your accommodation online well in advance of your vacation.

Gaelic is the main language of the Hebrides and you will immediately notice that places are named in this native language. You will also hear the language being spoken widely in shops and in the streets. Luckily the vast majority of signs have an English translation and nearly everyone can speak perfect English. Even if you hear a crowd chatting in Gaelic it is rather important that you understand that they have a perfect comprehension of the English language and many have more than two languages.

The Hebrides is a deeply religious part of Scotland and many areas observe a Sunday Sabbath. This means that most places are closed on Sundays such as shops, offices, golf courses and even play parks. If you are staying in self catering accommodation this means that you really must ensure that you stock up well in advance with essentials. If you are visiting out of season and staying in self catering accommodation it is also important to check that there are candles as the strong winds can sometimes cause short failures in the power supply.
About the Author
If you are considering a Hebridean vacation please take a look at Self Catering on the Isle of Harris and Harris self catering
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